BJ’s Nabs Top H-E-B Digital Exec to Accelerate Transformation

Warehouse club elevates 2 other execs to key roles
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
BJ’s Nabs Top H-E-B Digital Exec to Accelerate Transformation
Rachael Vegas

BJ’s Wholesale Club Holdings Inc. is making a major merchandising move by hiring Rachael Vegas as EVP, chief merchandising officer, from grocer H-E-B, where she was SVP, e-commerce merchandising.

Effective Oct. 25, Vegas will start her new role at BJ’s and be responsible for the strategic leadership of the company’s merchandising- and assortment-planning and allocation functions. She will report to Paul Cichocki, EVP, chief commercial officer.

“We remain committed to delivering unbeatable value with a best-in-class merchandising assortment that will exceed our members’ expectations,” said Cichocki, who assumed his position in April. “We’re thrilled to have Rachael join our team. Her diverse background and deep experience in retail and grocery will be influential as we continue to build on our momentum and advance our strategic priorities.”

“I am thrilled to join the team at BJ’s and look forward to working alongside this talented group of people to deliver outstanding products and services to members,” Vegas said. “BJ’s has made significant investments to grow its business, and I look forward to partnering with the team to become the one-stop shop of choice for even more members.”

Recent initiatives that BJ's has made to enhance its merchandising assortment include driving own-brands penetration and simplifying to expand into high-demand categories, including better-for-you snacks, fitness, recreation and seasonal products. 

For the second quarter of fiscal 2021 ending July 31, the retailer’s merchandise gross margin rate, which excludes gasoline sales and membership fee income, increased 30 basis points over the second quarter of fiscal 2020. According to the company, merchandise margins benefited from improved private label penetration and the mix of its general merchandise sales, partly offset by higher freight costs and price investments in inflationary categories. 

During her time at H-E-B, Vegas was responsible for its e-commerce business as well as its in-store financial services and payments division and its retail media initiative. Prior to H-E-B, Vegas held various leadership positions at Brandless, Target and Delhaize Group. She holds a master of business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a bachelor of arts from Tufts University.

a man wearing glasses posing for the camera
Tim Morningstar and Monica Schwartz

Meanwhile, BJ’s also revealed additional executive appointments.

Tim Morningstar will assume the role of EVP, chief membership officer, effective Oct. 25. Morningstar joined BJ’s in 2020 as SVP, membership acquisition and loyalty, and leads the company’s membership and marketing functions. He also reports to Cichocki. Previously, he was a partner at the Boston office of Bain & Co.

Monica Schwartz will assume the role of EVP, chief digital officer, effective Oct. 25. Schwartz joined BJ’s in 2020 as SVP, chief digital officer and is responsible for the strategic leadership of the company’s digital business. She reports directly to BJ’s President and CEO Bob Eddy, who assumed his role following the unexpected death of previous CEO Lee Delaney on April 10. 

“With the appointments of Rachael, Tim and Monica, we continue to strengthen our talented and experienced leadership team to drive the next phase of our transformation,” said Eddy. “This world-class team will play an integral role capitalizing on the opportunities ahead of us and driving long-term growth.”

Based in Westborough, Mass., BJ’s Wholesale Club operates 222 clubs and 151 BJ’s Gas locations in 17 states. The company is No. 27 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. With approximately 400 stores in Texas and Mexico, San Antonio-based H-E-B is No. 13 on The PG 100. 

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